THIS DAY IN HISTORY MAY 17, 1749 : English surgeon Edward Jenner, who discovered (1796) the smallpox vaccine, was born in Berkeley, Gloucestershire.

English surgeon and discoverer of vaccination for smallpox . Jenner was born at a time when the patterns of British medical practice and education were undergoing gradual change. Slowly the division between the Oxford  or Cambridge trained physicians and the apothecaries or surgeons who were much less educated and who acquired their medical knowledge through apprenticeship rather than through academic work was becoming less sharp, and hospital work was becoming much more important.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY MAY 16, 1763 : In London, Samuel Johnson met James Boswell, who published his famous biography, Life of Johnson, in 1791.

byname  Dr. Johnson English critic, biographer, essayist, poet, and lexicographer, regarded as one of the greatest figures of 18th-century life and letters.

Johnson once characterized literary biographies as “mournful narratives,” and he believed that he lived “a life radically wretched.” Yet his career can be seen as a literary success story of the sickly boy from the Midlands who by talent, tenacity, and intelligence became the foremost literary figure and the most formidable conversationalist of his time. For future generations, Johnson was synonymous with the later 18th century in England. The disparity between his circumstances and achievement gives his life its especial interest.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY MAY 15, 495 : On the Aventine Hill in Rome, the temple of the Roman god Mercury was dedicated.

Latin  Mercurius,  in Roman religion, god of merchandise and merchants, commonly identified with the Greek Hermes (q.v.), fleet-footed messenger of the gods. His worship was introduced early, and his temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome was dedicated in 495 BC. There he was associated with the goddess Maia, who became identified as his mother through her association with the Greek Maia, mother of Hermes. Both Mercury and Maia were honoured in a festival on May 15, the dedication day of Mercury’s temple on the Aventine (built about 500 BC).
Mercury is sometimes represented as holding a purse, symbolic of his business functions. Usually, however, artists borrow the attributes of Hermes irrespective of their appropriateness and portray him wearing winged sandals or a winged cap and carrying a caduceus (staff).

THIS DAY IN HISTORY MAY 14,1973: Skylab, the first U.S. space station, was launched.

First U.S. space station, launched into Earth orbit on May 14, 1973. Three successive crews of visiting astronauts carried out investigations of the human body’s adaptation to the space environment, studied the Sun in unprecedented detail, and undertook pioneering Earth-resources observations.

Skylab was an outcome of the Apollo Applications Program set up by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1965 to adapt spacecraft and systems developed for the U.S. Moon-landing program to a variety of scientific missions. As a first step toward establishing a long-term manned platform in space, Skylab made use of a Saturn V Moon rocket, whose third stage was outfitted as a habitat and ready-to-use orbital workshop, and the Command and Service modules of Apollo spacecraft, which ferried the station’s crews and small amounts of supplies. Although limited by its consumable resources in the same way as the Soviet Union’s first-generation Salyut stations, Skylab was much roomier and capable of more research. Its main scientific instrument, the Apollo Telescope Mount, incorporated a number of component telescopes and other devices for observing the Sun over a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum, from visible light through X rays.

During Skylab’s ascent a thermal-meteoroid shield was ripped off, which led to the loss of one of the lateral solar power arrays that was to supply electricity to the station and prevented full extension of the other. During their 28-day mission, the first three-man crew deployed an improvised “parasol” sunshade (later fortified with an overlying sun shield) to prevent serious overheating of the station and released the jammed solar array. Skylab hosted two additional three-man crews for missions lasting 59 and 84 days, the latter a space endurance record at the time. Although plans called for Skylab to be used again, increased solar activity caused its orbit to degrade faster than expected. On July 11, 1979, it entered the atmosphere, broke up, and scattered debris over the southeastern Indian Ocean and Western Australia.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY MAY 13,1960: A Swiss expedition led by Max Eiselin reached the summit of Dhaulagiri in the Himalayas.

Mountain massif of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal, on the western side of the deep Kāli Gandak River gorge. Many of its snow- and glacier-covered peaks exceed 25,000 feet (7,620 m), including Dhaulāgiri I, II, III, and IV. At 26,795 feet (8,167 m), Dhaulāgiri I is one of the world’s highest mountains. With a south wall 15,000 feet (4,600 m) high, the peak’s steep sides and bitter climate prevented an ascent to the top until May 13, 1960, when a Swiss expedition led by Max Eiselin reached the summit. The name of the peak is derived from two Sanskrit words meaning “white mountain.”